This story originally appeared in the Sept. 1 issue of the Community Voice. For your subscription, please call 270-384-9454.
Brady Hayes, Conor Smith, Evan Quinn and Josh Burton didn’t really know what to expect this year at the 2022 Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. The four Adair County High School Future Farmers of America students had worked over the last eight months, with a lot of help from their classmates, to restore a tractor for the FFA state contest.
They weren’t how sure their tractor would do against some of the other programs from around the state. However, perhaps even to the surprise of themselves, the Adair County team project was voted Champion Large Restoration, Champion Chapter Ag Mechanics Exhibit, and Champion Individual Ag Mechanics Entry.
“A lot of us have been around tractors, and working on tractors all of our lives,” Hayes said. “So, we had a goal of making the tractor look good. We were really more happy that we got it done in time. We knew it was a pretty nice piece, and we thought we had a chance, but we were really just glad to be there.”
“We all felt good about our chances, but there were a lot of good pieces up there,” Smith said. “We felt like if we win great, if we don’t, we know we tried out best. We saw a couple of tractors come in while we were there. They were good, but we thought we still had a chance.”
Adair County’s winning tractor was a 1924 John Deere Model B, donated by an anonymous local farmer. The renovated tractor was purchased by a farmer in Garrard County. He also donated a tractor to the school’s FFA program to renovate for next year’s fair.
Kenneth Montgomery, an instructional aid in the ACHS shop, helped coordinate the work on the tractor. He said he and the students began by researching the tractor model to get an idea of how to find parts, some that haven’t been made for years.
“There was quite a bit of work to do on this tractor. It hadn’t been started in years, so we had to research the starting sequence,” Montgomery explained. “The sheet metal was in really bad shape. We had to work on the hood, and the grill. We had to fix the carburetor, and we had to get new tires.”
“The paint job turned out really great on it,” Burton said. “I think that is what got us the win.”
He said one of the problems he had to work around was continuity. We would have students available for only the length of class time, and then a brand new group of students would come in to take over at the next bell.
Kirby said he’s been a little surprised about how well his FFA program continues to do with the restoration projects. This year’s win is the second consecutive championship for the ACHS team.
“I think after a couple of groups of kids had come through the program and they were successful, I think the kids coming behind them see that, see the trophies and they want to be a part of that,” Kirby said. “This is probably the best piece we’ve done so far.
“When these kids are motivated to do a job, you would be amazed at what they’re capable of. They all have very good work ethics, but they were also interested in the project. They have a lot of pride in their work and, had the tractor not sold, the kids were trying to come up with a way to raise funds to buy it themselves.”
Hayes and Smith said the students felt good working together on the project and actually learned a lot by working together.
“It is something to be proud and thankful for,” Hayes said. “Not all high school kids get to do something like this. We really enjoyed it.”
“This was a learning experience for us,” Smith said. “This is a great program. We get a chance to learn to build things, and work together. It really is a blessing for me.”
Other results from the state fair include:
Wesson Burton, Kentucky FFA Championship Auctioneer; Adair County FFA Shop, Championship Chapter Ag Mechanics Exhibit, Championship Large Restoration and Championship Individual Ag Mechanics Items; Ally Brown and Braeden Coomer won the Championship Soybeans Exhibit; Brown, second in soybeans; Coomer, fifth in soybeans;
Welding Team, second; team members were Mason Caldwell, Alex Loy, Caleb Edwards, and Preston Edwards; Edwards was sixth high individual, Loy was seventh; and Caldwell was eighth; each also earned scholarships to KWI; the Livestock Judging Team brought home third, team members were Trenton Page, Kaden Richard, Bode Richard, and Kiley Cowan; Riley Yarberry, seventh in Seed Identification; the Agronomy Team finished ninth, team members were Coomer, Preston Wisdom, Lilee Wall, and Ellie Cheatham.
The following students had Floral Exhibits:
Emylou Miller: Blue Ribbon, Low Light Foliage; Blue Ribbon, Fresh Floral Arrangement; Red Ribbon Fern, Red Ribbon Succulent; Beth Cowan: Red Ribbon, Fresh Floral Arrangement; Lily Loy: Red Ribbon, Fresh Floral Arrangement; Madison Irvin: White Ribbon, Fresh Floral Arrangement; Zowi Martin: Red Ribbon, Fresh Foral Arrangement; Brown and Coomer, Red Ribbons on their corn exhibits.
Miller, Cowan, Loy, and Madison Irvin competed in Floriculture; Keaton Burton, Hallie Burton, Sarai Collins, and Ally Brown competed in nursery; Piper Kemp, Kaylee Richard, Gracie Gist, and Mason Coffey also competed in Junior Livestock.